Tuesday 18th August
Simon opened the evening, this being the third one, promptly and traditionally with some mild C & W: 'The Calm Before The Storm' and kept it that way with 'Ride Me High', his very own 'Black Hole In My Garden' and E C woz here in spirit invoked with 'Wonderful Tonight'.
Personally, I thought I'd scream if I ever heard that one at an open mic session ever again but he pulled it off; bums-on-seats and nodding heads across the generations dug the familiarity like an anthem.
Lance picked up on that with his 'Eat Your Vegetables', 'Sleep and Dream Away' as we all looked wonderful … prior to the obligatory 'Sadie The Flatulent Horse', which was delivered in good humour. Indeed, Mr Maleski concluded his four-in-a-row with another nicely shrewd observation: 'Gardeners World' – We have apparently become a nation of gardeners since locking the country down beyond the wicker fence [near Kent].
Dusk and Keith, both conducive to a Bluesy, festival atmosphere generally conspired to give the feeling of an event with down-lights adding focus to his seasoned rendition of The-Blues-With-Feeling, his very original 'Too Sad To Sing The Blues' thus setting the tone for the lyrical 'Baby Steps' and 'Make The Slow One Last', you know, that thing that sometimes happens at other peoples' weddings. Anyway, the local church bells chimed in [perfectly] for Keith's last one: 'Brighton Rock'.
Chris J. Martin confirmed 'I Like To Be Sad' with his typical sense of irony but upped the urgency with a lilting Calypso [ironically slow-paced] in, 'Running Out Of Time' but seemed to have left the handbrake on for 'Little Red Car'. He reckoned this to be an oversight but it worked out okay. Lancias tend to do that imho. C. J concluded with a celebratory Rock n Roll take of 'Toast For One [till Friday]' – Something to look forward to, then.
For Heather, too!
'Paddy McGinty's Goat' got going in colourful Melanie mode – rather than the more middle-of-the-road Val Doonican whose music-for-mass-consumption used to be on telly a lot on those dreary, black-and-white, Saturday nghts as “entertainment” in the 60s when familiarity bred contempt for so many on such a regular basis prior to Pirate Radio Stations with their anti-establishment stance that us teenagers related to oh so passionately – This more feminine take on McGoat was better, as was 'Timothy' and 'Ruby Tuesday' from the same era. Heather kept the festival feeling going by concluding her set by covering 'You Got A Friend' which is always nice to hear.
Then it was me. Keith had inspired me to sing a Blues form that isn't actually a Blues in the Black American sense with his more universal 'Too Sad …' earlier. So I went for the more pop-cultural 'You Got Me Singing The Blues' – Neither of us have had the cultural experience that generated the real thing but many have adapted the rawness of the form into something original on its own terms. I took my version from a Bert Jansch recording of it, and he sailed very close to the Blues indeed. I added a Pat Metheny Jazz-Blues instrumental in lieu of a long guitar solo so that I could hide behind it as I took a long guitar solo – twice!
Energised by that, I played one of mine called 'On The Books' followed by 'Hallelujah, I love Her So' just to have a bit of fun with it – Derek picked up on that one by banging his box. I finished with 'Songbird' because I've been absolutely knocked out with the Eva Cassiday cover of it [written by Christine McVie] for so long. I have a 'My Girl' groove going on it these days, though, on my own terms of course. I mean, why else?
Derek, post-crescendo, moved forward with his back to the wall by taking a seat with a mic c/w pop-shield and a guitar this time. He performed, starting with 'When My Little Girl Is Smiling' followed by a short version of 'Buena Sierra' and Lindisfarne's 'Meet Me On The Corner' and concluded the show with 'It's Now Or Never' in Mr Whippie mode ala one-more-cornetto, or oranges-for-Ornetto, or … dunno really, people sang along diffidently. Suitably entertained for free but not quite full up.
Hold on, though – then the lady with a blue guitar and a Joni Mitchell, open-tuning attitude, made a late appearance. Yes, it was Ella adapting to the guitar-oriented sound system by strumming out an acoustic Rock n Roll groove in support of 'Big Yellow Taxi' followed by 'Chelsea Morning' and then calling it a day on number three with the aid of a capo on for 'Both Sides Now', which made it nice and jangly [like Woodstock in the garden of England].
4th August 2020
This was the second of our outdoor open mic nights because of Covid-19. People arrived with their pop shields and hand sanitizer and sat down for a full and varied evening of live music. Hurray! There’s not much of it about at the moment. We’d all got a bit cold a fortnight before, so this time people were better prepared with woolly socks and warm overcoats.
Simon welcomed everyone and opened up with ’Six Blade Knife’ by the wonderful Dire Straits accompanied by Derek on Cajon. He followed this with ‘Ripple’ from The Grateful Dead much to the delight of our resident Deadhead. I do love Simon’s version of this and the first time I heard it was the first time I realised I might be able to appreciate The Grateful Dead! I think his third song was Bobby Bradock’s ‘Hard Times’ which is rather appropriate for current days.
Chris plugged himself in and performed three of his own songs: ‘Ghosts’, ‘Insomniac’s Dream’, and one of my favourites, ‘Cry’. Simon’s amp balanced on a red beer crate worked beautifully to pick up the purity of Chris’s delivery. All of his songs can be found on YouTube and Spotify, and are recorded on physical albums.
Manus was up next with his socks on, playing a beautiful version of Hoagy Charmichael’s song ‘The Nearness of you’, made famous by Ella Fitzgerald and echoed by Norah Jones. He followed this with an instrumental jazz version of a Cleo Lane song ‘Wave’, which you canfind on his latest double album, Yin and Yang’. His fingers were flying!
Jason followed and performed a lovely gentle version of ‘At the Dimming of the Day’, written by Richard Thompson and originally sung with his then wife, Linda.
Lisa joined Jason and they sang one song written by them both, ‘Simple Smiling Faces’, and then one of Lisa’s own compositions, ‘Just for a while’. These two must put in a lot of practice! Their harmonies and rapport are such a pleasure. Nothing is left to chance and the results are beautiful.
Lisa stayed on to perform another of her songs ‘Jeannie has a Fancy Man’ accompanied by Helga on the flute. I have heard this before and I’d love to hear it again. To me it is both wistful and gently teasing.
Helga swapped instruments and played her iconic version of ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ on the guitar. Keith joined her on accompanying guitar for their version of Leonard Cohen’s song, ‘Suzanne’, with some lovely harmonies between the two guitars.
Keith then had his spot and played three of his own compositions, ‘Dusty’, and ‘Ode to a f---kin’ typewriter’, dry and jazzy, then ‘The Worst Thing’, a touching song in a more folky style with a lovely bass line, followed by ‘Swan Song’. Keith also records his music and it is well worth a listen if you get the chance…..or you could ask him about railways if you have some time to spare.
John and Mark settled in together and started with a song called ‘Riverside’ with Derek on Cajon again and Mark accompanying John’s rhythm guitar. They carried on with ‘Night Blindness written in 1998 by David Grey. Their third song was one I knew better, ‘Losing my religion’ by REM with John playing the mandolin and Mark the rhythm guitar. And a very good job they did too.
Clive came up and plugged in his own amp to give us ‘Sunshine on Leith’ with Capo lV, written by the Proclaimers and described as a ‘love song to Scotland’. As a child, one of the tongue twisters I never mastered was ‘The Leith Police dismisseth us’. Try it! Clive was the only person to sing a tribute to Peter Greene with ‘Man of the World’. A lovely version of a lovely song. He finished with the more upbeat ‘Summertime Blues’.
I was up next. It helped that I hadn’t got a frog in my throat like the previous open mic, so I managed to get through some of my favourites, because we never know how long we’re going to be able to perform with Covid, and the eventual move into Autumn. ‘Fields of Athenry was followed by Joni Mitchell’s ‘Little Green’, and Melanie’s ‘Brand New Key’. I do like a vocal challenge.
Derek finished off the evening for us. He left his Cajon and picked his guitar up to give us ‘City of New Orleans’ written by Steve Goodman and made famous by Arlo Guthrie. ‘The Wanted Man’, made famous by Dylan and Johnny Cash, with promises of blood and guts, but no sex, and finished the evening ended with Tom Paxton’s ‘My Pony Knows The Way’. All three of these songs were unknown to me, so writing the blog is a good way to learn new things. Thank you Derek.
The usual big thanks to Simon and the Committee for keeping things going, and the wonderful staff at The Six Bells for supporting us.
Please have a look on the Six Bells Folk ‘n’ Blues Club Facebook page for photos of the night and all of our performers.
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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